November 14, 2013

Top 5 Advisor Questions About Social Media, Answered

As someone who works closely with Hearsay Social clients to ensure their success on social media, I often hear advisors ask many similar questions. Sometimes advisors are entirely new to social media, sometimes they don’t understand how it can benefit their business.

With that in mind, here are my answers to the top five most frequently asked questions advisors ask about social media:

1. Why do I need to be on social media?

Social media is a place for you to build your brand and show your customers who you are. In the past, it was silly to try to do business without a telephone, just as it’s silly to do business today without a digital presence on social media.

Additionally, it’s a place to be available to your customers and prospects. Eighty-seven percent of people with an advisor are on social media today, according to a study conducted by FTI Consulting and LinkedIn. That means your customers are sharing information you can use and asking questions you can answer. As an advisor, you can answer questions via LinkedIn Groups, post credible content to your social media accounts, and engage with your customers online. Social media is one of the fastest and easiest ways to share more about your experience and credentials to help build your business.

2. Aren’t the people on social media just young kids?

Actually, that’s no longer the case. The fastest growing demographic on social media is age 35 and older, and the average Facebook user has an income of $75,000 per year. These people are your customers: they are buying houses, having families and making big life decisions. They need their financial advisor to be there and help them weigh their options. And now, three out of five financial advisors are able to gain new clients through LinkedIn because social media has become an invaluable business tool to help you grow your network, build credibility, and engage with your customers about financial decisions.

3. Which network should I start with?

Based on research and results from other advisors, I’d recommend starting out with a LinkedIn profile. Today, seven out of 10 advisors choose to build their business with LinkedIn. A LinkedIn profile is like a digital, interactive resume. It’s easy for your customers to find, and you’d be surprised how many of your customers and potential customers will search for you before they decide to work with you. For that reason, make sure you can be easily found through a LinkedIn profile. Regularly update your profile with the latest credentials, education, and summary about why you’re in the business.

In addition, I’ve seen advisors create an account on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter all at once, and then quickly get overwhelmed. If you’re new to social media, start with one network, probably LinkedIn, and get comfortable sharing content, engaging in groups, and requesting introductions to your second- and third-degree connections. After you master LinkedIn, create a Facebook profile or Twitter account to expand your social strategy.

4. I’m worried about client confidentiality. If I join LinkedIn, can’t everyone see my customers?

I understand that keeping your customer names private is very important. My recommendation to you is to connect with 100 people first before inviting your customers and prospects. You should connect with colleagues, friends, neighbors, community leaders and those that you met through school. There is no maximum number of connections you can have on LinkedIn, so the sky’s the limit!

My rule of thumb for connecting is ensuring that I can tell a story about each person I connect with — this means I actually am familiar with the people who I’ve connected with on the network. Unlike on Twitter, you want to personally know everyone that you connect with on LinkedIn. Once you reach a critical mass of 100 connections, start connecting with your current customers. Nothing on your profile will say that they are a customer; you’re simply adding them to your digital rolodex.

Pro Tip: Make sure to send a personal message when you invite someone to connect. If you click “Connect” via your mobile device, it will send the generic LinkedIn message. If you use your desktop, you can personalize the message and note where you met them for your records later.

5. Should I make my profile “private” on LinkedIn?

I’d strongly suggest that you don’t. The spirit of social media is sharing, engaging, and crowdsourcing information in a social, public way. If you make your profile private so that nobody can see your contacts or your information, it’s like joining a party and sitting in the corner by yourself. Additionally, if you keep your profile private, it will be harder for a customer or prospect to confirm they are looking at the right person when they visit your profile, so they will be more hesitant to make an introduction. You’re going to get the most value out of social media by entering the room, answering questions and engaging with the audience, so keep your profile public.

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